However, those champions of 'freedom of expression' don't seem to be too worried about being the next targets of Muslim rage; after all, Charlie Hebdo survived a firebombing of its offices last November over the "Charia Hebdo" edition. If you recall, that was the one "guest edited" by the "Prophet Mohammed", and captioned with "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter." Well, we all know there is no humor in Islam, or at least its adherents are sorely lacking.
Naturally, everyone is panicking in that country- considering the amount of disenfranchised, unemployed Muslim youth just waiting for an excuse to rampage.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the prime minister, issued a statement expressing his "disapproval of all excesses."
The magazine's editor, originally a cartoonist who uses the name Charb, denied he was being deliberately provocative at a delicate time.
"The freedom of the press, is that a provocation?" he said. "I'm not asking strict Muslims to read Charlie Hebdo, just like I wouldn't go to a mosque to listen to speeches that go against everything I believe."
Muslim leaders have also piped in, not that anything they might say will change the minds of those hell bent on revenge.
Dalil Boubakeur, the senior cleric at Paris's biggest mosque, appealed for France's four million Muslims to remain calm.
"It is with astonishment, sadness and concern that I have learned that this publication is risking increasing the current outrage across the Muslim world," he said.
"I would appeal to them not to pour oil on the fire."
France's Muslim Council, the community's main representative body, also appealed for calm in the face of "this new act of Islamaphobia."
Muslim leaders need to control their wayward followers, and not simply try to appease them.
In the meantime, I'll be waiting for the news about the angry mobs taking to the streets in France.
UPDATE 9/19/12: Here is one of the cartoons published on the front of Charlie Hebdo.
The cover of Charlie Hebdo (seen above) shows a Muslim in a wheelchair being pushed by an Orthodox Jew under the title Intouchables 2, referring to an award-winning French film about a impoverished black man who helps an aristocratic quadriplegic. Another cartoon on the back page of the weekly magazine shows a naked Mohammed exposing his backside to a film director.
Asked if it was a provocation, Editor Stephane Charbonnier said:
“The freedom of the press, is that a provocation? I’m not asking strict Muslims to read Charlie Hebdo, just like I wouldn’t go to a mosque to listen to speeches that go against everything I believe.”
Many people do. But as Charbonnier says, if you are offended by something just turn your head. No-one is forcing you to watch or read something you might find offensive.